‘A member of the UAE royal family is accused of torture – but is there any chance of justice when the country’s rulers are the law?’ asks Brian Whitaker.
Theatrocities of Abu Ghraibcaused much rightful indignation – and nowhere more so than in Arab countries where the sadistic torture of prisoners at the hands of their American jailers was viewed as symbolising the rape of Iraq by a foreign power.
I remember discussing this at the time with Hisham Kassem, a newspaper editor in Cairo who – contrary to the prevailing Arab view –describedthe coverage of Abu Ghraib by the Egyptian press as “shameless”.
“They talk about American monstrosities as if their own governments have never practised anything similar,” he said. “It’s nothing in comparison to what’s happening in Arab prisons.”
The Obama administration has released the four torture memos in response to an ACLU Freedom of Information request today. The redactions are not as extensive as initially thought. All the memos are available here. See the characteristically brilliant commentary by Glenn Greenwald below and Democracy Now’s interview with Greenwald and Justice Department whistleblower Thomas Tamm.
Obama to release OLC torture memos; promises no prosecutions for CIA officials
(updated below – Update II)
In a just-released statement, Barack Obama announced that — in response to an ACLU FOIA lawsuit — he has ordered four key Bush-era torture memos released, and the Associated Press, citing anonymous Obama sources, is reporting that “there is very little redaction, or blacking out, of detail in the memos.” Marc Ambinder is reporting that only the names of the CIA agents involved will be redacted; everything else will be disclosed. Simultaneously, and certainly with the intend to placate angry intelligence officials, Attorney General Eric Holder has “informed CIA officials [though not necessarily Bush officials] who used waterboarding and other harsh interrogation tactics on terror suspects that they will not be prosecuted,” and Obama announced the same thing in his statement.
Update: Dawn reports that the ranks of the lawyers movement have also been swollen by the presence of a large number of students. This is significant, since students, especially middle-class ones, have generally been apolitical and to the extent that there has been any student politics in Pakistan, it is mostly dominated by the squabbles between the youth wings of the different national parties.
Pakistan’s government has announced the reinstatement of Iftikhar Chaudhry, the deposed chief justice, in a bid to defuse the country’s political crisis and end a protest march that was threatening to turn into a violent confrontation.
Yusuf Raza Gilani, the prime minister, said Chaudhry would be reinstated as Pakistan’s supreme court chief justice on March 21, the day his replacement was due to retire.”I announce the restoration of all deposed judges ,including Mr Iftikhar Chaudhry, according to a promise made by the president of Pakistan and myself,” Gilani said on Monday in a televised address to the nation.
He also ordered all lawyers and political activists arrested over the past week to be freed immediately.
“I do not hate (Israelis) for being Jewish or Israeli but because of what they have done to us. Because of the acts of occupation. It is difficult to forget what was done to us. But if the reason for the hate will not exist, everything is possible. But if the reason remains, it is impossible to love. First we must convince in general and in principle that we have been wronged, then we can talk about 67 or 48. You still do not recognize that we have rights. The first condition for change is recognition of the injustice we suffered.”
– Said Sayyam, martyred in Gaza January 2009, to Ha’aretz, November 1995.
All Palestine is controlled by Zionism. The Palestinians (not counting the millions in exile) are half the population of Israel-Palestine, but they are victims of varying degrees of apartheid. The Jewish state has already lost its Jewish majority, and is more hated by the Arab peoples than at any time in its brief, violent history. Let’s take it as given that continuation of the present situation is untenable for everyone concerned. We need a solution.
The Gaza massacre has re-ignited debate across the UK and elsewhere and prompted many people to want to learn more. For those relatively new to the conflict, I usually point them towards Ilan Pappe’s The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine, Finkelstein’s An Introduction to the Israel-Palestine Conflict, Occupation 101 and this lecture, also by Norman Finkelstein, An Issue of Justice. It is one of the best lectures I’ve heard and succinctly covers the main areas of the conflict in an hour.
As an aside, I don’t agree with Norman on the Israel lobby and the Iraq war or his position on the two state solution, however I do think his argument on the two state solution is useful for demonstrating that Israel and the US prevent peace in the region.